MSN, Volvo Ink Auto Show Marketing Pact

The North American division of Swedish carmaker Volvo inked a deal with Microsoft’s MSN to showcase ads on the official North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) site, hosted by MSN Autos.

The pact calls for Volvo to deploy banner and skyscraper ads featuring its new XC90 SUV on the homepage and manufacturer pages. Ads will also run in MSN’s NAIS newsletter.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

MSN Autos, formerly known as CarPoint, has vehicle descriptions for over 10,000 new cars and 100,000 used cars. The site boasts of drawing more than 10 million visitors a month. The NAIAS is the biggest car show event of the year. This year’s show, held in Detroit, begins Jan. 11 and runs through Jan. 20. Last year’s event drew 23,000 visitors.

MSN Autos’ NAIAS site gives users the chance to view the various model launches announced at the show, see concept cars unveiled, and watch live video shots and reports from the conference floor.

In addition to the advertising buy, Volvo will launch a buffed-up version of its Volvo Digital Garage. The service gives users the chance to receive driving information, such as gas prices and traffic conditions, through MSN Alerts. Volvo owners can also use the service to get information relating to their Volvos, including lists of local retailers and driver manuals.

The deal continues the relationship between Volvo and MSN Autos. In December 2001, Volvo tapped MSN to promote the XC90 in anticipation of its November 2002 launch. The companies also combined for the first iteration of the Volvo Digital Garage.

Automakers have been earmarked as a ripe market for Internet advertising. A J.D. Powers and Associates survey last year found that 82 percent of new car buyers used third-party sites for research before making purchase decisions. Despite this, research by DoubleClick indicates that auto companies spend just 1 percent of their marketing budgets online.

Volvo has been a trailblazer of sorts in using the Internet for promoting its vehicles. In 2001, it launched its S60 sedan launch mostly through online promotions. The campaign met with mixed success, with some dealers complaining that it created little consumer awareness.

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